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ANZ J Surg. 2017 May;87(5):360-363. doi: 10.1111/ans.12904. Epub 2014 Nov 13.

Minimally invasive thyroid nodulectomy reduces post-operative hypothyroidism when compared with thyroid lobectomy.

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Endocrine Surgical Unit, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



It has been a long-standing surgical tenet that the minimum surgical procedure for a single thyroid nodule is lobectomy. Such an approach, however, has been associated with a significant incidence of post-operative hypothyroidism with patients becoming medication dependent for life. Thermal sealing devices have enabled local nodule excision to be undertaken safely with preservation of more residual thyroid mass. The aim of this study was to determine if this approach was associated with a reduction in post-operative hypothyroidism.


This is a retrospective cohort study comprising 351 patients treated between January 2010 and December 2012. Patients were assessed at 6-8-week review. Subclinical hypothyroidism was defined as a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) >4.5 mIU/L, with clinical hypothyroidism defined as both an elevated TSH and presence of clinical symptoms requiring thyroxine replacement.


One hundred and ninety patients underwent open thyroid lobectomy, 86 a minimally invasive thyroid lobectomy and 75 a minimally invasive nodulectomy. There was no difference in post-operative hypothyroidism after lobectomy whether by the open (22.1%) or minimally invasive (22.1%) technique. However, after minimally invasive nodulectomy, post-operative hypothyroidism was less than one quarter (5.3%) of that following lobectomy overall (22.1%, P < 0.01). There were no differences in post-operative complications between any of the groups.


Minimally invasive local nodule excision can be performed safely, with the potential for significantly reducing the rate of post-operative hypothyroidism. As such, the procedure should be considered for appropriately selected patients.


lobectomy; minimally invasive; nodulectomy; single thyroid nodule

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